Late and combined because I started writing stuff but then it felt overwhelming so I did other stuff. So I did some of the journaling and thinking yesterday but never finished.
Today’s action items actually include journaling, so I think this will be longer. The first item is to seek out Black owned businesses and patronize them. Well, Lowe’s is a corporation, but the CEO is Black, and they’re doing cool stuff during lockdown. SoleRebels is an Ethiopian company, and the world’s first fair trade shoe company. When I got my contract for this fall I ordered shoes for everyone in my house because suddenly I could afford it, and they make comfortable, sustainable, ethical (to various people’s concerns, too: they have a vegan footwear line) shoes. I also did a quick Google for makeup brands by women of color and then went to my makeup subscription bag to make sure I had any of those brands that were listed checked off as ones I definitely wanted to try.
Journal or think about on your and your families experiences the work and money. What career do you have? What did your parents have? Do you or they work in a historically segregated industry? If so, how was that segregation maintained? How does that affect your family’s earning power?
Actually doing this late worked, because of my freshman year of university.
My grandfather set up a trust fund for me. There was enough in it that in high school I could comfortably plan for going to the cheapest state school in Wisconsin for four years without taking out loans. Part of the reason this was possible is that my grandfather – who met my grandmother when they were both in university, because this was an option for both of them – was an engineer before he retired.
My parents have been journalists, and there are Black people they know from J-school, so it wasn’t a completely segregated industry. They have also worked in higher education, though. So once I move from talking about my grandparents, the question of work and the question of education are tightly coupled.
Down the hall from me in fall 2007 there was a dorm room where there were two Black girls: the only two Black girls on the hall. My meal plan and dorm and tuition were covered by my trust fund; they were both on loans, and I think one of them had a work-study. Both of them had to drop out in the spring because they couldn’t afford it. I flunked out a semester after that because of depression, but I didn’t have loans to deal with, so I was able to go back, eventually, and now I’m a PhD student. I have no idea if they were able to go back, but I think this is an important example of how intergenerational wealth can work. My family could afford to send me to university unburdened by concerns about money, partly because they were university educated and had economic circumstances that allowed it.
And, like. I’m proud of the work my grandpa has done, and of my family members’ individual accomplishments. But the paths that lead to those accomplishments would have been closed or at least steeper if they weren’t white.